Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

A Les Paul Custom... swimming pool?

Playground worthy of a rock 'n' roll legend

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It all started innocently enough.

When he entered Aqua-Tech's headquarters at 1065 Dugald Rd. last year, Garry McBurney was in the market for a hot tub.

When he walked out some time later, he'd decided he wanted a swimming pool. But not just any pool.

"It was a bit of an accident -- I went in looking for a hot tub, but things somehow went from that to me looking at a bunch of swimming pool designs," recalled McBurney, head of MX Renovations.

"Most of the designs were a bit generic, so I gave some thought to what would work for me. Eventually, I came back with a guitar design."

That's when things got interesting, he said.

"I took my idea to Joe Urmos, who heads up Aqua-Tech's design team. When I first showed it to him, I could see him thinking, 'Is this guy serious?' He was very respectful and kind of humoured me. But he saw that I was serious, so he said he'd do his best to see what he could do."

What McBurney -- an ardent guitar collector -- wanted was not just a guitar-shaped pool, but a replica of one of his favourite instruments, a Les Paul Custom.

Urmos said that while it took some time to wrap his head around the concept, he eventually concluded it was possible to pull off.

"Basically, we can do any shape or size of pool, but it's the first time someone had come to me with a design that intricate and involved. What Garry wanted to do was definitely something very different, but we felt we were up to the challenge."

Aqua-Tech's co-owner, Glen McGillivray, said McBurney's guitar pool is likely the most labour-intensive projects the company has undertaken. The pool was not a project that could be completed in a week or two. It took roughly six to eight weeks to plan and another six to eight weeks to build.

"For example, the pool liner was made with a special vinyl ink for the guitar strings," he said. "And at the end of the pool, grey concrete was poured to mimic the guitar's tuning pegs. It took a ton of planning, something that was made so much easier by the amazing computer program Joe uses to design pools."

"It's called Pool Studio," said Urmos of the sophisticated imaging program. "Essentially, we took the dimensions of the guitar and built the pool proportionally to it. To get all the details just right, we stenciled the liner so we could exactly replicate the guitar strings and tuning pegs. The three-dimensional program really helped out staff and the owners visualize the final product."

That said, it's really the skill of the crew that takes the project from concept to 3-D reality, he added.

"We can do any scale of pool -- it just takes planning. Still, designs don't materialize unless the people who're building them have the skill to make them happen. Shaun Duguay and his crew did just a phenomenal job of bringing the concept to life."

The stunning result is a pool that's 19 metres long and an exact replica of a Les Paul Custom guitar, down to the last detail. And McBurney is ecstatic about his rock 'n' roll oasis.

"There's no way it could have turned out any better than it did," he said. "Every detail is perfect, right down to the strings and the bridge being on an angle.

"My team at MX Renovations also played a part, doing the curbing, forming and pavers. It took a lot of planning and hard work, but it was worth it."

Now McBurney and his wife, Heather, have a backyard pool unlike any other, something they savour every time they head outside to take a dip.

"I'm the type of guy who likes to do everything a bit differently, and this pool is definitely different. To the best of my knowledge, no one in the world has a pool like mine, with all the amazing details. That's a great feeling to have."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 30, 2011 F5

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